“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
There seem to be seasons in our lives. This is especially true when we seek to walk with God in worship and in service. There are times of great joy, and then there are others times of trial and chastening. As a Pastor I am at times made aware of the trials and chastening that others are experiencing. Recent weeks have been one such time, and it has led me to reflect anew on the ways in which God is at work in my life, but also in the lives of many of those that I am called to serve in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. One thing has been abundantly clear to me in these reflections God has a plan and a purpose which He is working out in our lives, and also in history. As the Apostle Paul reflects upon this in his letter to the Romans he pulls back the curtain to give us a glimpse of just what God is doing. We see how all of creation is waiting for the final revelation of God’s redeemed people. We see that this purpose is being worked out in each of our individual lives. In fact it is the subject of a great intercessory prayer meeting in which we have been invited to Intercede with the Spirit of God before the Throne of God as we struggle with our trials, and in the process we find ourselves being ushered into the Will of God.
Think about that for a couple of minutes. We are not left to deal with our trials by ourselves. The Holy Spirit is interceding for us, as, we discover later in the chapter, is the Son of God. What a wonderful comfort to discover that not only are other believers praying for us, so too is the Triune God. What can ever stand against us if God is for us? His purpose is our holiness. All that He has done is so that a people will be created who will be conformed to the image of Christ. For this reason we daily bring ourselves before God in prayer, seeking His grace to powerfully work in us.
Darrell Johnson in his wonderful series of studies on the book of Revelation, when he comes to reflect upon the powerful vision of the throne of God seen in chapter four begins with these words. “Things are not as they seem.” (Darrell Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge, Regent College Publishing, Vancouver, BC, 2004, p. 129) The book of Revelation is written to encourage persecuted believers to stand firm in their faith. The fourth chapter introduces us to one of the greatest helps which god has given us. This is a Biblical vision of God in all of His glory. I am told that the word glory was originally a marketplace word. Its root was to give something its proper weight. When we see God in all of His glory we are giving Him His proper weight. We see Him as He is, at least as much of His reality as we can bear. The Apostle John receives an invitation of see God on His throne, as the holy, sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe. As he looks upon God on His throne the trials that Church, and John himself in exile on Patmos come into their proper perspective. What John will be discovering in this vision is the tremendous spiritual resources that are available to anyone who will stand firm in their faith.
As Darrell Johnson explores this theme he quotes from a Father John Powell who wrote in Fully Human, Fully Alive: A New Life through a New Vision the following.
“Through the eyes of our minds you and I look out at reality (ourselves, other people, life, the world, God). However we see things differently. Your vision of reality is not mine and, conversely, mine is not yours. Both our visions are limited and inadequate, but not to the same extent. We have both misinterpreted and distorted reality, but in different ways. We have each seen something of the available truth and beauty to which the other has been blind. The main point is that it is the dimensions and clarity of this vision the dimensions of our world and the quality of our lives. To the extent that we are blind or have distorted reality, our lives and our happiness have been diminished. Consequently, if we are to change – to grow – there must first be a change in this basic vision, or perception of reality.” (Niles, Illinois: Argus Communications, 1976, p. 10)
What we need is a new vision. This is what God provides for us in His Word. In Christ we are welcomed into His presence to see Him as He is, so that we might become like Him. In our trials God chips away at the scales on our eyes that hinder us from seeing His Glory. With each trial, as we continue to stand firm we see Him more clearly and therefore find ourselves becoming more Christ like.